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Zardari congratulated me when we killed OBL in Abbottabad raid: Obama

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Picture of former US president Barack Obama. Photo: File

Former US President Barack Obama recently released his memoirs in which he said that Pakistan’s then-president Asif Ali Zardari congratulated him when he announced Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a raid in Abbottabad. 

According to report published in Dawn, Obama’s book titled “A Promised Land,” was released on Tuesday in which he presented a detailed account of the 2011-raid carried out by American troops on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Explaining the importance of taking out the most-wanted Al-Qaeda terrorist, Obama stated in his book that he had to order the military strike despite knowing that the move violated the sovereignty of Pakistan.

“Whatever we chose to do in Abbottabad, then, would involve violating the territory of a putative ally in the most egregious way possible, short of war- raising both the diplomatic stakes and the operational complexities,” he wrote in the book, per Dawn.

Obama also disclosed that his decision to launch an attack on OBL’s compound was opposed by the then vice-president Joe Biden and his defence secretary Robert Gates.

Once the US troops were successful in killing bin Laden, Obama wrote that he called several world leaders to break the news. He also phoned the then president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, who “showed genuine emotion, recalling how his wife, Benazir Bhutto, had been killed by extremists with reported ties to Al Qaeda,” Obama stated.

“I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan’s beleaguered president, Asif Ali Zardari, who would surely face a backlash at home over our violation of Pakistani sovereignty,” Obama wrote. “When I reached him, however, he expressed congratulations and support. ‘Whatever the fallout,’ he said, ‘it’s very good news’.”

Aside from Zardari, US officials also called the then army chief of Pakistan Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani who requested the United States to come clean about the raid so that the Pakistani public’s reaction could be managed.

Obama further wrote that he preferred not involving the Pakistani government in the raid because he believed certain elements inside the country maintained links to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

“Based on what I’d heard, I decided we had enough information to begin developing options for an attack on the compound. While the CIA team continued to work on identifying the Pacer, I asked Tom Donilon and John Brennan to explore what a raid would look like,” he wrote, per Dawn.

“The need for secrecy added to the challenge; if even the slightest hint of our lead on bin Laden leaked, we knew our opportunity would be lost. As a result, only a handful of people across the entire federal government were read into the planning phase of the operation.”

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